Genres: Historical Fiction, Christian, Supernatural
I have received this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
It took me a while to decide how I would rate this novel. All Things Bright and Strange is a story set in Bellhaven, a small town in the Southern United States, known for its tolerance and peace between different religions and races. But since the war, things haven’t been the same. Then one day a small chapel is found in the woods, and it brings peace and comfort to the townspeople – but something is not quite right about it, and supernatural forces escape through cracks into the natural world, causing tensions and destruction.
First of all, I had a deep disliking for the main character, Ellsworth, for about half of the book. He was unnecessarily rude, especially to Anna Belle, stubborn and difficult. After that, he little by little starts to develop as a character, but I was already too annoyed by him in the beginning to be very touched by it. I liked Anna Belle, Gabriel and Raphael a lot, though!
The story itself was very intriguing, dark and interesting: the tension grew little by little, a hint of wrongness present since the beginning. It was very breath-taking to see the stakes grow higher and higher, and the hate grow too. Intolerance seeps into everyone’s minds and thoughtless acts escalate. Somewhere in the middle the story lost pace, broken by the background stories of some characters, which I found frustrating, but still kept going – I was hooked by the story nevertheless.
The Christian undertone is quite strong, and I think if you’re deeply religious you might have conflicting thoughts about it. I was raised Christian but I don’t practice it, so for me it was interesting to see but I wish it had been done more subtly – but then again, that is a personal preference, if you like Christian novels, I think you’ll be alright with it!
I liked the message of tolerance, of a town united against evil, of forgiveness and moving on. I recommend it if you don’t mind the Christian tone of the story and would like to read a supernatural story with hints of horror!